The massive size and heft of semi-trucks make them especially dangerous when they’re involved in accidents on our highways and byways. In fact, big rigs are responsible for some of the deadliest motor-vehicle accidents. These behemoths of our roadways seem to multiply right in front our eyes, all in response to our ever-increasing consumer demands. With more semis come more accidents, and these include jackknife accidents, which truck driver error can often cause.
Truck Accidents: The Stats
Tractor-trailer accidents are frequently deadly. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found several significant statistics related to commercial truck crashes:
- In 2015, nearly 4,000 truck-accident fatalities took place in the United States
- The drivers and passengers who weren’t in the semi-trucks were far more likely to die in truck accidents than drivers or passengers in the semi-trucks
- Truck accident fatalities rose by 22 percent in the seven years from 2009 to 2015
- More than 11 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2015 involved big rigs
These sobering statistics serve to highlight the dangers associated with commercial truck accidents. When you get behind the wheel of your car, remember that you share the road with semi-trucks and always make safety your top priority.
If a truck jackknife accident injured you, consult an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Your rights and your rightful compensation are far too important to leave to chance. The dedicated legal team at The Levin Firm in Philadelphia is committed to helping truck-accident victims like you get the compensation to which Pennsylvania law entitles you.
A moveable joint connects a semi-truck’s cab and trailer, which is why people call them articulated vehicles. This joint gives these massive vehicles increased maneuverability, but it also leaves semis more vulnerable to specific kinds of accidents that include jackknifes.
When a semi jackknifes, its trailer folds back in on its own cab in a terrifying motion that resembles the action of a jackknife closing. Several variables may cause a tractor-trailer to jackknife (or contribute to its jackknifing)—and many of them are closely associated with truck driver negligence or error:
- When a truck driver brakes improperly in relation to the driving conditions, including bad weather
- When a truck driver speeds or exceeds the posted speed limit
- When a truck driver anything other than driving safely claims a driver’s attention
- When a truck driver takes curves or turns too quickly
- When a truck driver hauls improperly or poorly loaded cargo
As professional drivers, the law holds truck drivers to more stringent safety standards than the rest of us. Any one of the factors listed above can lead to a dangerous jackknife accident, and each of them is directly attributable to truck driver negligence—although the trucker, the trucking company, the loading crew, or all three may bear or share the responsibility for a poorly or improperly loaded trailer.
Let’s take a closer look at the most closely connected factors in jackknife accidents:
- Speeding. Every trucker shoulders an immense responsibility when getting behind the wheel due to the massive size of the vehicle. When a truck driver makes the dangerous decision to exceed the posted speed limit or to exceed the safe speed as dictated by road conditions and visibility, that trucker engages in dangerous driving. With increased speed comes the decreased ability to stop a semi in a driving emergency. The greater the speed that the semi travels at, the longer its stopping distance. Speed is closely associated with jackknife accidents.
- Taking curves. While mild curves don’t usually present problems, steep curves demand every driver’s utmost attention and care. Pennsylvania law holds truck drivers to strict accountability in such matters. With steeper curves come an increased risk that the truck will jackknife. As professional drivers, truck drivers know this safety hazard, and they should always attend to steep curves with the utmost caution.
- Driving in inclement weather. Bad weather often means slippery roads and low visibility, and when it comes to 18-wheelers, any decrease in traction with the roadway can lead to dangerous accidents, including jackknifing.
Semis, because of their massive sizes and articulations, are more likely to jackknife when the road is even slightly slippery. Truck drivers face responsibility for accommodating poor driving conditions such as inclement weather.
Semis represent a significant threat on our roadways, and as such their drivers must adhere to strict safety practices—or endanger everyone with whom they share the road.
Trucking While Distracted
Distracted driving has become so prevalent and plays such a role in truck accidents, including jackknife accidents, that it necessitates further attention. The U.S. government has identified distracted driving as such a significant danger that it devotes a website to the topic. This site identifies distracted driving as any driving in which the driver’s attention focuses on anything other than the vital task at hand—safe driving. The website divides distractions into three categories:
- Visual distractions
- Manual distractions
- Cognitive distractions
When it comes to distractions, smartphone usage—because it engages all three categories—hits a home run. When truck drivers engage in distracted driving, they are far more likely to jackknife their massive vehicles.
If a Truck Jackknife Accident Injured You, Consult an Experienced Philadelphia Truck Accident Lawyer
Truck jackknife accidents are terrifying and extremely dangerous. If a truck jackknife accident injured you, you know all of the difficulties your face. Hire a skilled truck accident attorney to help deal with the legal issues so you can focus on physical and psychological healing. The dedicated legal team at The Levin Firm in Philadelphia has the experience and commitment to aggressively advocate for your claim’s best possible resolution. We’re here to help, so please contact or call us at (215) 825-5183 today.